Study: More than 40 percent of Americans experience online harassment

New Pew Research Center study finds many Americans have been harassed online

Not everyone logs on to the internet to share and play nice in the sandbox. 

If you're familiar the online world, you've likely read nasty comments or maybe even been the recipient of a mean remark. Online bullying is a common, visible issue.

The issue was recently in the heavy spotlight after Rob Kardashian posted nude photos of his ex-fiancee, Blac Chyna, along with a string of accusations about drug use, plastic surgery procedures and infidelity. Many were outraged, calling out Kardashian's behavior as harassment. In California, the act can be criminal.

But Blac Chyna isn't alone.

A new Pew Research Center study reports, 41 percent of Americans have been harassed online and nearly 70 percent said they've seen the behavior directed at others.

Researchers also found nearly one-in-five Americans have experienced severe forms of online harassment, such as physical threats, sexual harassment, stalking and harassment over long periods of time.

The study reports, harassers usually target their online victims for their personal or physical characteristics, such as political beliefs, gender, race or physical appearance.

The majority of Americans, 62 percent, view online harassment as a problem and nearly 80 percent believe online services have a duty to intervene when the behavior occurs. About half of people in the U.S. feel law enforcement should play a role in addressing severe harassment and more than 30 percent believe there should be stronger laws protecting people from online harassment.

Although online bullying affects every individual differently, many who experience severe harassment report issues ranging from problems with their friends and family and damage to their reputation. More than 40 percent of people who endured harassment online said they felt emotional distress and found the incident "extremely upsetting".

Nearly 30 percent said they felt their physical safety was at risk.

The Pew Research Center surveyed 4,248 U.S. adults to come up with the findings.

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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